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You need veggies to be healthy, but does your dog need them?

While vegetables aren’t necessary for a dog's health, in most cases they can’t hurt, experts say.

Dogs can benefit from vegetables in their diet. Corn and potatoes give them carbohydrates for energy, plus minerals and fiber. But dogs don’t need vegetables to get these nutrients. Other foods, like rice and grains, can fill these needs too, says Jennifer Larsen, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Dogs are omnivores like people, so they can eat a wide variety of foods, not just meat.

Should I Add Veggies to My Dog’s Food?

In most cases, you don’t need to add them to his kibble bowl, says veterinarian Evy Alloway, who practices at Killingworth Animal Hospital in Connecticut.

If the dog food you buy has a stamp of approval from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (or AAFCO) it means it offers a balanced diet. Everything she needs is already in her food. You don’t have to worry about giving vegetables -- or grains, for that matter -- to your dog to make sure they get a balanced meal.

Veggies as Treats

While you don’t need to add vegetables to your dog’s diet, it doesn’t mean that you can’t. Many pet owners offer carrots, green beans, or broccoli to dogs as treats.

They’re low-calorie, so they’re good for Fido. But don’t offer too many vegetables as snacks. Treats of any kind should not make up more than 10 percent of your dog’s diet. Ask your vet for what that means for your dog based on his weight and activity level.

They’re Good for Overweight Dogs

Vets often recommend mixing vegetables into the kibble of an overweight dog as filler. It’ll make his meal feel more satisfying with few calories.

Just be forewarned: A sudden change from the typical fatty, processed, meaty treats to fiber-filled vegetable ones can be a little tough on your dog’s system. To ease the transition, soften raw vegetables a bit first by steaming them. You can also puree them in a blender.